Another in my series of interviews with researchers from the Black and Bloom team, a very well funded multi-year project, which was on the ice this past summer looking at some of the same kinds of ice and albedo changes that Dark Snow Project has researched in past years.

I spoke to members of the team on and off the ice, which I’ll continue to post in coming weeks and months.



The £3-million (US$4-million) Black and Bloom project aims to measure how algae are changing how much sunlight Greenland’s ice sheet bounces back into space. “We want to get a handle on just how much of the darkness is due to microbes and how much to other physical factors”, such as soot or mineral dust, says Martyn Tranter, a biogeochemist at the University of Bristol, UK, and the project’s principal investigator.

Team scientists arrived near Kangerlussuaq, Greenland, this week for 6 weeks of observations. The work will continue for two more summers, exploring different parts of the ice sheet. Ultimately, the scientists hope to develop the first deep understanding of  how biological processes affect Greenland’s reflectivity.

For decades, most studies on Greenland microbiology focused on cryoconite holes, small pits on the surface of the ice sheet that are filled with dark organic matter and ice-adapted algae. But enormous blooms of photosynthetic algae also cover the snow-strewn ice sheet every summer1. Some, such as Chlamydomonas nivalis, spread first as greenish blooms as they begin to photosynthesize, and then turn a reddish colour as they produce carotenoid pigments to protect themselves from the sun’s ultraviolet rays.

“They’re extremely lazy algae — they sleep for nine months and then wake up and have a party,” says team member Liane Benning, a biogeochemist at the University of Leeds, UK, and the GeoForschungsZentrum research centre in Potsdam, Germany.

The algae creates vast, colourful fields of what is popularly known as ‘watermelon snow’. Last month in Nature Communications, Benning and her team reported sampling watermelon snow at glaciers across the Arctic2. They found 6 types of algae living at 40 red-snow sites in Norway, Sweden, Greenland and Iceland. By comparing the optical properties of red snow to clean snow, they estimated that algal blooms could reduce reflectivity by 13% over the melting season. “Wherever we look, the impact is quite dramatic,” Benning says.

After the snow cover melts for the season, other species of alga take over. These ice-adapted algae are typically brownish-grey, less visibly dramatic than the red and green blooms but just as important for darkening the ice sheet. Only in the past few years have scientists begun to realize that some of the dark particles on the ice sheet are in fact these ice algae and not soot, Benning says.

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Not 36 hours after the video above was released early this year, the neo-nazi “Alt-right” rag, run by Stephen Bannon, Donald Trump’s new campaign manager, had gotten uber-twit James Delingpole, whose motto is “I’m evil and right about everything.”(sorry Jimmy, only half right..) – to produce what they hoped would be a hatchet job in response.

Obviously, Delingpole is on to me, and calls me out for my malevolent practice of seeming “measured and reasonable”.

Ok, Jimmy, you got me.

James Delingpole in Breitbart:

The climate alarmists have come up with a brilliant new excuse to explain why there has been no “global warming” for nearly 19 years.
Turns out the satellite data is lying.

And to prove it they’ve come up with a glossy new video starring such entirely trustworthy and not at all biased climate experts as Michael “Hockey Stick” Mann, Kevin “Travesty” Trenberth, and Ben Santer. (All of these paragons of scientific rectitude feature heavily in the Climategate emails)

The video is well produced and cleverly constructed – designed to look measured and reasonable rather than yet another shoddy hit job in the ongoing climate wars.

John Nielsen-Gammon is the State Climatologist of Texas. I had the chance to question him on a number of issues back in June, and I’ll be pushing some of his answers out over coming weeks.

For the first time, I’m concerned that a post might cause panic.

I was fortunate to catch up with Katharine Hayhoe in June, while I was interviewing TV meteorologists at a conference in Austin, TX.  She was there to present and answer questions on the finer points of climate science for the assembled media mets.

Dr Hayhoe has been named one of Time Magazine’s most Influential People. She is a climate scientist working and teaching at Texas Tech University.


There are winners and losers in climate change.  Here’s a story about a tiny winner. Donald Trump likes winners.


Montana wildlife officials shut down almost 200 miles of the Yellowstone and its tributaries to recreation last week to prevent the parasite from spreading to other rivers, or south into Yellowstone National Park.

The white bodies of thousands of dead fish litter many parts of the river, victims of a parasite that causes a fatal illness called proliferative kidney disease, or P.K.D., in mountain whitefish. There have been reports that it is also killing trout, the prized game fish here. The outbreak has not spread to humans or other animals.



“The aroma of rotting fish tells you what we’re dealing with,” Travis Horton, a regional fisheries manager for Montana, said Tuesday as he inspected the riverbanks near here. Read the rest of this entry »


The story of this election is that the GOP’s elaborate message control apparatus has so insulated it’s faithful from actual data and fact – that they’ve split off in their own delusional, unmoored reality, and are dragging the party with them into a woodchipper.

The Party’s stand on climate change is a crime for which the consequences have only just begun to be felt.

If you think the GOP has trouble with millennials now, just wait.


Many young conservatives are trying to be optimistic when it comes to climate and the Republican Party, as it doesn’t seem there’s anywhere to go but up. “One of the unique gifts of the Christian community is hope, the unshakable belief that God is faithful to his promises,” says Kyle Meyaard-Schaap, spokesperson for Young Evangelicals for Climate Action.

Very few people in their party are talking about climate change during this election cycle — or at all — but there are plenty of younger conservatives who are passionate about this issue and want their leaders to pay attention. And if they don’t, these young people are counting down the days until people their age can be the ones making these decisions. “Maybe this is the young college student in me,” says Andy Rodriguez, a Republican senior at the University of South Florida who went to the National Climate Leadership Summit in June, “but once the politicians that we know today grow old and are out of office, and when the people my age start to fill Congress, I’d like to think that Congress would deal with solutions.” Read the rest of this entry »

Autonomous vehicles will be here sooner than anyone thought, and they will have an internet-like impact on society.
That’s one reason why Uber has an estimated market cap 20 billion dollars higher than General Motors. Who knew?
The modern industrial economy is to a great degree centered around auto manufacturing and production. What if we suddenly need only 10  percent as many cars?  What if a key bottom rung of the employment ladder, the taxi, truck, or bus driver, disappears?

Here, Robin Chase, Co-founder and former CEO of ZipCar, considers the landscape.


Simply eliminating the drivers from cars, and keeping everything else about our system the same, will be a disaster. Picture zombie cars — those with no one in them — clogging our cities and our roads, because it will be cheaper to keep them moving than to pay for expensive urban parking, and cheaper to bring retail to a customer than to pay rent on a retail store. While the number of vehicle miles driven skyrockets, our transportation infrastructure revenues, dependent on the gas tax, parking, fees, and fines will disappear. Unemployment will spike as professional drivers will be be laid off in droves. It will be a nightmare of pollution, congestion, and social unrest. Let’s break it down.

Congestion. The traffic alone will make people curse the technologists who brought AVs to our streets. Right now, our “congested” roads and cities are mostly filled by individuals driving alone in their cars (75 percent of all trips). Just imagine our streets and your frustration when 50 percent of the cars have no people in them at all.

When we don’t have to drive them, we’ll use our cars more. My 2004 Prius costs me about $1.50 for an hour of run time. It will be cheaper to have my car double-park or circle blocks rather than pay for a parking meter or, heaven forbid, pay for parking in a downtown garage. It’ll also be cheaper to have my car pick up pizza or drop off dry cleaning than to tip a delivery person. Endless double-parking and block circling already happens in places where the cost of a human driver is either very cheap (think Delhi) or expense is irrelevant (think about luxury black cars in New York City).

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This hits home for me. I was a street paramedic for  15 years  – the pictures of the intact passenger compartment on a crushed Tesla above speak volumes, and demonstrate the safety features that only an electric vehicle can provide.
This sets the standard.
I’ll be doing more on the already-in-progress EV revolution in coming months.


Orthopaedic surgeon Jonathan Braman has spent a lot of time working on patients injured in violent car accidents. That’s why he knew what to expect for his family and himself after his Tesla Model X was struck by a large GMC truck at over 45 mph after it ran a red light. To his surprise however, all 6 passengers (and his dog) walked away from the severe accident.

Braman credits Tesla and Elon Musk for keeping his family away from serious injury or death by designing what could very well be one of the safest vehicles ever built. Let’s take a look at all of the factors why through Braman’s accident, which happened in Bloomington, MN, over the weekend.

As mentioned, Braman is an orthopaedic surgeon from Edina, Minnesota. He is a longtime electric vehicle enthusiast and Tesla supporter. He owns a Tesla Roadster (#1102 which he bought in 2010) and he reserved his Model X back in 2012, which means he had to wait four years to get the vehicle.

He took delivery of the all-electric SUV in April and while he only had the vehicle for 4 months, he now says that he would gladly wait another 4 years if it can save his family from any severe injuries again. Read the rest of this entry »

If it had been a hurricane, last week’s flood in Louisiana would have been the seventh most damaging cyclone to hit the US in history. But it was not a hurricane.

Welcome to a climate altered planet.

Paul Krugman in the New York Times:

A disaster area is no place for political theater. The governor of flood-ravaged Louisiana asked President Obama to postpone a personal visit while relief efforts were still underway. (Meanwhile, by all accounts, the substantive federal response has been infinitely superior to the Bush administration’s response to Katrina.) He made the same request to Donald Trump, declaring, reasonably, that while aid would be welcome, a visit for the sake of a photo op would not.

Sure enough, the G.O.P. candidate flew in, shook some hands, signed some autographs, and was filmed taking boxes of Play-Doh out of a truck. If he wrote a check, neither his campaign nor anyone else has mentioned it. Heckuva job, Donnie!


But boorish, self-centered behavior is the least of it. By far the bigger issue is that even as Mr. Trump made a ham-handed (and cheapskate) effort to exploit Louisiana’s latest disaster for political gain, he continued to stake out a policy position that will make such disasters increasingly frequent.

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